Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A geek's dream - A descent VMWare ESXi server for less than $1k

OK, for the non-technical geeks out there, I'm going to say I'm sorry in advance.  This post is going to be pure geek speak.

I work for a company that has a cloud offering.  I need to have several different devices in my lab in order to duplicate connections to the Cloud.  Honestly, I have a lab at home that is probably as good, if not better than what I have at work.  One of my pieces of lab equipment is a computer that runs virtualization software. What that means is I have one PC that can run many different operating systems on it all at the same time.  So instead of having 10 different PCs all configured differently, I have one machine where I can make virtual machines and I can stop and start them at will.

My "old" rig had an AMD E-350 (think if it as an Intel Atom on steroids) motherboard, with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive and about 4 networking cards on it.  The nice thing about it is when it was maxed out, it would only eat about 50 watts of power - max.  The problem is that it was so underpowered, it would literally take me days to setup and configure a Windows server VM for duplication purposes.  Not hours, but days.  After much frustration, I gutted the system and purchased the following items:

AMD FX 8120 (eight core CPU running at 3.1Ghz)
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3 motherboard
32 GB of RAM
Crucial M4 SSD hard drive (128GB boot drive)
Intel dual port PCIe networking card

I put this all together and all I can say is that this thing absolutely, positively flies.  The difference in processing power between the two is the difference between night and day.  Stability is rock solid.  Worth the investment?  Oh, absolutely.  No doubt about it.

So if you're looking for a relatively inexpensive, but very capable VMWare ESXi 5 server, this is the equipment to get.